After all the work I’ve done to harvest and process my sunflower seeds, I’m torn between being willing to pay $20 per bag in the grocery store and designing new work areas to make it less troublesome. It is hard to compare to other garden produce. The seeds are just a small snack, not having much to do with main meals. There is only one harvest period. I’m not planning on hulling any for baking. The seeds should be easy to store once they are roasted and dry, and shouldn’t take up a lot of space.
I have made a video showing how I ended up cleaning them. This step was definitely going faster than getting them out of the flower heads. I did use a big watering trough for threshing some beans recently and found that on a breezy day, it might work to do it outside. The seeds tend to bounce a bit on the screen, so I would do it on a clean patio in order to be able to find strays.
The transcript for the video can be found below. Hope you find it useful and that it stimulates your own garden problem solving!
I started out with just a few sunflowers, but they grew quite large.
After letting them sit and dry inside for a few days, we started taking out the seeds. They did NOT just easily brush out.
And when they came out, they were mixed with a lot of dirt and plant matter.
So, I began experimenting with ways to separate out the seeds.
The hair dryer did not have enough air flow and got too hot.
When applied from underneath, everything bounced around together.
When applied from the side, the air stream was too narrow.
With the addition of a little hand work, I did separate out some of the debris and vacuumed it up.
I reprocessed the first batch using a 50 watt Holmes fan from Walmart, that we happened to have from a painting job – set to speed 3.
Some debris was carried for 5 feet across the kitchen, some landed on the screen. Dirt fell through the screen. Immature or empty seeds tended to fall in a separate pile just upstream.
I did a lot of vacuuming.
My husband showed up and wondered if holding the fan higher and pouring from a container would be more effective. That didn’t seem to help. It actually seemed to me that releasing the seeds from my hand let the airflow catch things better.
I did end up doing a double clean on all of the seeds, cleaning up in between to keep my main work area as clean as possible.
A few seeds were test-eaten to see if the separation was working. Overall, it was.
The next step is to soak, then roast.